We are using the WordPress blog software to create the DELORES Static Collection. In this post we discuss the approach we have taken to add functionality to WordPress to support the purpose of presenting a learning resources collection.
The DELORES Static Collection requires these features from WordPress:
- The categories should be used to represent topics and sub-topics in the design engineering syllabus.
- Posts should be used to describe pre-selected OER resources. Where possible, a preview of the resource, or even a copy of resource itself, will be embedded into the post.
- The posts should include information about the title, description, URL, author(s) and licence of the OER described by the post.
- The content of the exportable RSS feeds should include those fields too.
- The metadata in the post, and consequently in the exportable RSS feed, must be about the resource being described and not about the blog post.
- Any enhancements to WordPress (e.g. new or modified plugins) we develop to support this functionality must continue to work with new versions of the WordPress software. Ideally the enhancements will not restrict the choice of theme or other plugins.
Once WordPress software was installed on our server we added some plugins and tested a few themes looking for an installation that would provide us with the above features. Atahualpa 3.4.9 and Carrington Blog 2.2 themes seemed the most suitable ones but at the end the Carrington theme was chosen because the flexibility of its framework that enables the creation of “child themes” to implement additional features without modifying its code and without changing the underlying software of WordPress either.
Our child theme called Delores Theme, lives in its own directory in
wp-content/themes and has its own CSS file and PHP scripts to produce the styling and the functionality of the features created on our WordPress installation. The Delores Theme’s scripts handle the presentation of the posts in a customisable hierarchy fashion so it could be adjusted as the expectations of learners using the static collection are studied.
The Static collection makes use of the WordPress’ ability to allow adding custom fields to a post. We use this custom extra metadata to include information about the title, description, URL, author(s) and licence of the OER described by the post. Thus, the metadata in the post, and consequently in the exportable RSS feed, would be about the resource being described and not about the blog post.
Considering that the encapsulated PHP scripts of a theme acts like a WordPress plugin, initially we are developing the feature to include the Dublin Core and Creative Commons elements needed to describe the resource, as part of the child theme software. However, once the theme has been tested and shown to be a suitable platform for the static collection, this feature will be deployed as an independent plugin and able to work with any other WordPress theme.